Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Good Morning, YRCC Muppet Fans

Good Morning, Starshine!

Sesame Street is my inspiration for our small group song, my YRCC Muppet friends. The Sesame Street version of Good Morning, Starshine is the best!

Those lyrics seem to be made for muppets. I wanted a "cute and fun" and possibly "silly" song which is always good to have. This one fits the bill, and our theme, beautifully. 

Gliddy glup gloopy, 
nibby nabby noopy 
la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, 
nooby abba nabba, 
lee, lee, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, 
nooby abba naba
Early mornin' singin' song

(now you have these lyrics to review)

There's this Sesame Street version and also a radio version by Oliver that I remember more than the Hair version. 
We made a couple of changes to our sheet music. If you want to join this small group, be sure to get those notes copied on to your music. 
I have a few copies still. 
We're meeting early next week, but not starting until 7:00.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 28-Mar-2022

 A big reminder that next week we move to Tuesdays! 

Monday was choir night for so long, it's going to be strange. But, the days of the week are all strange still for me, and I think there's so much transition happening for most people that it will not be a big deal. Put it on your calendars, set your alarms, do what you have to do to remember and to let your people know that Tuesday is now choir night. 

Small Group: Good Morning Starshine

We had our first small group rehearsal this week. Good Morning Starshine is adorable, but not super-easy. We made a few changes to get the melody more like we remember it. We discovered that the door opens at 6:30 sharp, so we'll meet at 6:45 and aim to start at 7:00 next week. It was way too cold to have to wait outside for the door to unlock! Brrrr!

I forgot to mention that we discovered last week that the doors were unlocking at 6:30 and locking at 7:30. So, we need to arrive punctually. Lauren is looking into having the doors open a little longer, but it's good that they lock after we get in. For security, it is best if we are downstairs with the doors upstairs locked. Let someone know if you need to be late so we can look out for you and open a door if necessary. 

1.     On Eagle’s Wings

And He will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand

So we will shine our lights while being held in care, or maybe because we are held and carried and raised up by each other and given the time and space to shine. You raise me up to more than I can be.

We reviewed all the  "Make you to shine like the sun" they are all a bit different from one another, especially in the Alto parts. This is a well-known and well-loved song, but our arrangement is special and impressive. Even if we don't get it perfect, it will sound great and feel wonderful. We missed the other Tenors and Basses tonight because they get so much melody and their part is really strong in this. Blair is a trooper, and I would give him a hundred gold stars if that was my thing ;-)

Blair found our arrangement on the Alfred.com site. They've got an orchestra, and they sing it too schmaltzy for me, but have a listen:


2.     I Can See Clearly Now

We learned the section at the Segno @25, which is where the blue skies are. Love this section! We sang all the way through, trying to remember last week's stuff and sight reading the rest. Not bad, but we'll be working on this for a while. No worries, but I'd love to be able to share this with seniors, and maybe at an outdoor public performance this year. 

Here's a recording on the Alfred.com website. It's in SATB and with a band, so a little different but it's our arrangement. 


3.     Sunshine Medley

We started the Don’t You Worry section building backwards with melody at 65=69. It went well. This line is pretty cool and not too hard. We sang through the whole thing, remembering and sight reading. I think it's going to be great! I'd like to save this one for December, but we'll keep singing it. 

4.     You’ll Never Walk Alone

Walk on and on and on through the wind, through the rain, dreams tossed and blown

This is one of our favourites and also a fan favourite. We've got this, but we can clean it up a bit too. We've been letting a couple things go. For example, the second sopranos have a few special bits that we've been ignoring. @31 dreams for second sopranos (yes, you get those 8th notes), also second sopranos @41/42 and again @63/64 have the G and the special A onbeat 2 (easier here because it comes out of a divided S1-S2 part). The audience would never miss these bits. Our arrangement is so special and impressive! We have recorded parts of this song if you want to hear this, however, I remember the recordings having some issues. I'll take a listen. (when I figure out how to get access to them- they seem to be gone)

 5.     We Rise Again 

As sure as the sunrise, as sure as the tides and the seasons, we rise again and again- In the voices of our songs.

Marlene is back from the visit with her beautiful new grandson- with pictures (thank you!)

Like You'll Never Walk Alone, this song is forgiving. We sang it without reviewing the parts to see how it felt and sounded, and sure enough it was good. We need a good soloist, which we have, and the first sopranos have to be together, and the rest is oohs that are background and not really listened to carefully, and the melody that everyone wants to hear. Great arrangement, super sound from our little choir! We'll keep working on this, getting it better every time, but it's not a worry.

We have/should have recordings for each part for this song on the website, but there is something wrong. I'm looking into that.

Other News:

Jane has been busy contacting seniors' residences and she's getting us bookings for June! We'll be performing for seniors this spring on Tuesday evenings. Since we're a smallish group, we should all be able to go to each performance, but we'll confirm this as the dates get closer. We do have to be prepared for things to change, as things have been doing for the last 2 years. 

For a concert, we'll look into getting a park in Newmarket and/or Aurora for an afternoon, maybe a Saturday afternoon or even a Saturday morning during market time? Still need to work on that. 

Carol also shared a baby picture- her new great niece who is named after Carol's mom and born on English Mother's Day. Edie/Edith is beautiful and Great-Aunt Carol is beautifully beaming. 

Next week, Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

6:45 / 7:00 Small Group: Good Morning Starshine

  1. This Little Light of Mine
  2. I Can See Clearly Now
  3. Sunshine Medley
  4. You'll Never Walk Alone
  5. Somewhere Out There

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

On Eagles Wings- YRCC will shine like the sun

One of the songs we are singing this season and probably next is On Eagle's Wings. It's a pretty piece, and pretty well-known. US President Biden mentioned it in his victory speech in November 2020. Our arrangement is powerful and it feels great to sing it. I can't wait to sing it again at choir next week!

Here's a video of the us performing it, and you can also follow this link: YRCC singing On Eagles Wings

 This video was taken at our "We Are Winter" Concert in December 2014 at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora. It was one of our packed December concerts; must have been more than 200 people there in the audience. 

We are really very popular in December. For many, our winter concert has become a family tradition, a yearly outing near the start of the festive season. I've heard people say that it kicks off the holiday season for them. We have all missed so many traditional activities for the past two years! Holidays were very different with celebrations, parties, dinners, gatherings, traditions cancelled or moved online to Zoom. 

I so much want to be there again, in front of a large audience, in front of my big, gorgeous choir!

I had hoped that spring 2022 would be our big reunion with our audience, our We Rise Again concert. But, with the pandemic still lingering, people still staying home, fear lingering, we will put a big concert off again, and will plan the big one for December 2022. We will shine like the sun! 

When we are all together, feeling safe in the palm of His hand, we will stand shoulder to shoulder and sing out to our friends and family, all of our fans again. We will shine like the sun. I promise.

And He will raise you up on eagles' wings

Bear you on the breath of dawn

Make you to shine like the sun

And hold you in the palm of His hand

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 21-Mar-2022

Happy Dance


Monday, March 21st was WONDERFUL!

1. You Raise Me Up

When I am down and oh my soul’s so weary: pandemic, all the time!  So grateful for those who came and sat a while with us, on the phone, by zoom, in person, to raise us up out of the loneliness. Big love to our besties!

When we sang this, it felt heavenly. We’re back. Donna was fabulous, the choir sounds great! I was so happy! We sat side-by-side, not distanced, but sang with masks. It worked. We could hear each other and sing out with confidence.

For the first two verses, make sure you are holding notes as written, observe rests as they are, just a short breath maybe, and after the second ending, more legato, link the words together without a rest, especially mountains you and middle of page 6 : “You raise me up to more than I can be” all linked and lush and loud, not soft (ignore the “a little less” notation). This time we’re singing it as a big hug, soothing and lush- mark your music, erase notations to cut short, erase notation/notes to sing softly in the middle of page 6!

Thinking about adding an extra verse with an audience, having the audience sing a third verse, repeating the first, with the choir singing only mmm or soft doo-doos. We tried it out and it could work.

2.     I Can See Clearly Now

This is such a fun piece! I love it. We’re doing great so far. We sang all the way to the segno (@25). There are tricky bits: Basically, the whole section from @16 is hard for the sopranos and altos. The hardest, I think, is “It’s what I’ve been praying for.” We’ll have to review that whole section, but it’s pretty cool, and the tenors and basses get the melody, which is a nice change. We “walked through” the whole piece, taking note of the segno, and the coda, and how the repeat happens.

We sang along with a recording that Blair found for us. It’s from the Alfred Music site Alfred.com. It was quite a bit faster than what Donna and I like. We’ll do it slower. Here’s a link to that recording.

My YouTube channel has two choir versions. Here’s a link to my playlists. Click on the POST COVID Playlist and you’ll find all kinds of treasures.

3.     Sunshine Medley

Here comes the sun, and I say, it’s alright, let the sun in, don’t you worry bout a thing. It’s often difficult to relax and open up to good things after going through bad things. 

We reviewed the beginning, Here Comes the Sun, and continued with the transition to Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a thing. We walked through the whole thing, and even sight-read the Here Comes the Sun ending!

I had some blank stares during the Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing part. I recommend that you take a look at the video on my Post COVID Playlist (Here’s a link)  to get a feel for what I’ve got in my medley. I borrowed heavily from that version. There’s also a Here Comes the Sun and the Aquarius/Let The Sunshine video there for you. Here’s a link if you want to go straight to Don’t You Worry.

4.     Hallelujah

All TB on first solo All SA on second solo, we stood, some physically distanced without masks and it was so good!!! 

5.     Why We Sing

We had a couple more minutes and decided to sing this. Same idea with the solos: all TB all SA. We remained standing. Donna was sight-reading. It was awesome! What a talent! The choir was fantastic too! I felt a wonderful high that I haven’t felt in such a long time!

Take Note:

During break, we talked about moving to Tuesdays to keep Donna, and we all agreed that it was the best plan, and Lauren and Jane are working to make it happen.

We also talked about working toward seniors’ visits and maybe a park concert instead of our usual big formal concert. With the small numbers and pandemic stress, along with all the transitions happening, we decided it would be best not to have a formal concert.

We’ll have more details on performance plans as they get booked. Seniors concerts are only an hour, from 7 to 8 and we’ll look at Tuesday evenings in June.

Next week, Monday, March 28

6:30:  Good Morning, Starshine Small Group

1.     On Eagle’s Wings

2.     I Can See Clearly Now

3.     Sunshine Medley

4.     We Rise Again

5.     You’ll Never Walk Alone


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 14-Mar-2022

It was wonderful having Donna accompany us and help us learn parts! You can tell she's been doing this for a while; she's fantastic. Donna is the accompanist for the police choir, so she can only do Monday nights for us until they start up again. We don't know when that will be. The Admin Centre is still closed. 

Someone suggested we blend the two choirs together, but that won't work for many of us YRCC folk who work during the day. The police choir does daytime stuff. And besides, they're a very different choir from us. I've actually been thinking for a while about changing our night to Tuesdays to see if some of those men would choose to sing in both choirs. Some of our women might want to join the police choir now that they're recruiting women. Everyone present thought that moving to Tuesday would work. We'd have to find out if our room would be available here at Trinity and later at the Admin Centre.

Something else that came up was whether or not we think we can perform a concert, or maybe just do seniors' homes since we're a smallish group. It's good to have a goal to work toward, but I guess we could change our goal to small seniors' visits, and maybe a different kind of concert, free, outdoors? 

Exciting. We'll be doing more talking and planning. 

Peggy came with all the new music, numbered and punched and ready to add to our binders. All the binders are ready for members to come back. Spread the word. 

Here's what we sang:

1. Wonderful World

I see skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night. Reminds me of the people walking through the neighbourhood at all times of day, couples, families, fast walkers and slower walkers, andante, adagio, lento even. Our audience would enjoy singing along with us, I think.

2. Blue Skies 

Nothing but blue skies from now on… we hope and pray that the pandemic restrictions can end and we can sing freely again, projecting our voices with confidence, without masks,…a dream for now. We all wore masks or face shields so that we could sit closer together. 

 Melinda and Debbie sang the solos, and were great. Lauren has offered to sing one of the solos, so she could do the first and Debbie is the soloist for the second, but we always need back-ups, so let me know if you'd like to try either of these. 

We did snaps and jazz hands: mark your music where you start and stop snapping. Sopranos snap on page 1, everyone snaps during the solos. Jazz hands on the last word. 

We talked about solos in general. We have 4 songs with solos. Let me know if you are interested in any of these:

1. Blue Skies – 2 soloists (Lauren and Debbie, back-ups needed)

2. Seasons of Love- 1 or 2 solos and back-ups are needed

3. This Little Light of Mine- 1 or 2 solos (Mary-Ellen, another? back-ups needed)

4. We Rise Again- 1 solo (Marlene, back-up needed)

3. Sunshine Medley

Here comes the sun, and I say, it’s alright, let the sun in, don’t you worry 'bout a thing. It can be difficult to relax and open up to good things after going through bad things. We will try to let the sun in and also to let our lights shine. 

The time changes look odd, but we should not have to worry too much about them, because our Here Comes the Sun sounds a lot like the Beatles'. We sang all the way up to bar 42. We'll review all that next week. 

4. We Rise Again 

As sure as the sunrise, as sure as the tides and the seasons, we rise again and again- in the faces of our children, in the voices of our song.

Marlene is an excellent soloist for this! If anyone is interested in being a back-up, let me know. 

We started at C (middle of page 5, bar 19- if you need to add letters to your music click here) :

We reviewed all the parts in C. We need to hear T/B lines, which are cool and different. I need to hear the basses at bar 19 on beat 4. At bar 25, the basses joined the tenor moving on beat 3 in "ocean" and that was a good move. So, basses, please change your notes to a half note followed by a quarter there.

We'll go over it again next week, and we'll review all of the oohs and ahhs. We did the oohs and ahhs on page 7 and it was good to look at them again. 

We sang all the way to the end. We need to review who sings what in the last 2 bars @64, 65

I had planned to sing You Raise Me UP as well, but I guess we did a bunch of extra talking. That's fine. My planning is flexible these days. 

I had hoped to start the small group Good Morning Starshine on March 21st, but let's push that to the 28th. We'll talk about small groups next week. 

Monday, March 21st:

Here's the plan for next week:

  1. You Raise Me Up
  2. I Can See Clearly Now
  3. Sunshine Medley
  4. We Rise Again
  5. Hallelujah

YRCC Updated COVID Protocols- March 2022

YRCC choir members, please come back as soon as you're comfortable. 

We have plenty of space at Trinity Aurora. We are currently sitting closer than 2M but wearing either a mask or a face shield. 

Here's the list of our updated pandemic protocols. 

  1. Wear your mask. Wear your mask any time you are away from your seat. You can sing with your mask on, but you don't have to. We also have plastic face shields for everyone. Give a face shield a try. 
  2. Stay healthy and do not come if you are feeling ill; stay home when you're sick. 
  3. You can screen yourself online before you leave home here. (The Ontario screening tool. It's so easy! Click on "Start Screening" and keep clicking.) Or, you can screen yourself using this form, attached, a PDF version. We do not have to see your screening. You are responsible for this. 
  4. Generally, wash your hands often with soap and water and dry them well. 
  5. Use hand sanitizer when you can't access soap and water.
  6. Avoid touching your face. 
  7. Only go out when necessary (choir is necessary).
  8. Keep high contact surfaces (door handles, for example) clean.
The church is asking us to keep our things, including coats, in the room with us. We are to clean/disinfect the high contact surfaces. We set up our chairs and then put them away after. Thank you to everyone who's been helping with that!

We are not asking for proof of vaccination anymore. But, personally, I hope you are all up-to-date on your shots. We will keep up-to-date with and keep following the provincial rules and the rules of our host, Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora. 

Stay safe and healthy, and come back to choir!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Plan for 14-Mar-2022

My plan for last week's rehearsal (7-Mar-2022) didn't happen. The forecast looked terrible, so we cancelled. Good thing, because the snow came as promised and on top of ice from the melted rain and freezing rain. I was so relieved to not have to go out in those messy scary slippery conditions!

I was also relieved because we had just learned that our accompanist would not be able to join us after all. She was finding school too stressful and time-consuming. I was not looking forward to leading the choir with recordings in the last minute again. It's not awful, but it's not great either. 

The storm outdoors reflected my messy, scary, slippery thoughts and feelings. What now? 

Well, we have a wonderful temporary accompanist coming on Monday, thanks to Blair! Donna is the accompanist for the police choir, so she'll have to go back to them when they get started. We have to find someone new but for a while we're good.  

Here's what we're singing on Monday, March 14th:

  • Wonderful World 
  • Blue Skies 
  • Sunshine Medley 
  • We Rise Again 
  • You Raise Me Up
  • If we have time, we'll sing Hallelujah

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 28-Feb-2022

Monday, February 28th, 2022

Well, while it wasn't the rehearsal I had planned, the joy of reunion and of being where I need to be was there, and the beautiful sound of a choir in front of me was fantastic. 

We sat less than 2m apart, but wore masks or face shields for extra safety. I'm hoping we can sing with naked faces soon. We are all vaccinated and I hope we're all self-assessing (link to the provincial self-assessment site)

Our new accompanist was sick, so I had to switch to Plan B. It was disappointing. I'm so looking forward to working with Weichen! Luckily, the technology was mostly working and we could sing with recorded performances and accompaniments. 

I already knew that the sheet music was late, so our binders wouldn't be complete. Getting binders of music into choristers' hands is always challenging. This season is no exception. Thank you to Lauren who stepped in to bring us our binders which Peggy and Anne assembled (thanks too). 

Here's what we did:

Warm-ups: We had a physical warm-up with the Beatles' Here Comes The Sun playing, for relaxing and opening up our bodies-our musical instruments-to prepare for singing and singing together. We did some breathing exercises, and some vocal exercises on different syllables.

1. Somewhere Out There: How very far apart we were during the pandemic! But, we thought about each other and loved and figured out ways to see one another. 

We will not have a soloist at the beginning. Sopranos will sing softly. You might want to write in the ending, as it's not what's written. I've added the words "come true" on the last two notes, and redistributed and added notes. We'll review it for those who missed it.

2. Seasons of Love: How do you measure 2 years? Don't do the math, measure in love.

We need a soloist for this @33. Nicole and Joanne have done it in the past. It would be good to have some jazziness. The tenor line after the solo can also be a solo. We'll see. We'll need to sing this when we're all back together and preferably without masks so that the balance can be worked on. Be sure to come in with confidence on every phrase, whether it's beat one or two or the pick-ups to one ("how about" and "remember the"). 

3. We Rise Again: Our theme song. As sure as the sunrise, as sure as the sea, we rise.

We need a soloist for this. Marlene has volunteered and she did a great job last night! We will work on the oohs, but they're not super-important. We will work on the first singing of the chorus @19, which is different from the others. Tenor and Bass especially have cool parts. Second Sopranos move around a bit, but you'll be happy because you move to the melody. First sopranos are on the top line of the choir bracket throughout. Remember to ignore the solo line on top. Tenors move a bit too, happily out of the tenor clef and into the bass clef mostly. The accompaniment recording is fast. 

4. Sunshine Medley: My own arrangement! I'm kind of excited and proud of this. I started to plan it about a year ago. I wanted us to sing all of these pieces but not in whole, so I took parts and sewed them together. 

This is very new, so we don't have a recorded accompaniment, so I just kind of walked (sang/talked) through it to give you and idea of how it goes. It should be fun. 

5. Blue Skies: Nothing but blue skies and sunshine from now on, no more pandemic.

We need 2 soloists. Lauren can do either of the solos. We'll do the snaps and the jazz hands.

6. This Little Light of Mine: We're gonna let our big, bright lights shine. It's really up to us to be the sunrise. 

We need a soloist, and Mary-Ellen has volunteered. There's a solo and repeat @35.

7. Hallelujah: We're going to invite the audience to sing with us.

No solos this time. All tenor and bass on first solo, all soprano and alto on second. Fun!

I handed out a few copies of Good Morning, Sunshine to make a small group. They will start rehearsing on March 14 at 6:30. We'll talk about that next week.

Next week: Monday, March 7th

  • Blue Skies
  • On Eagle's Wings
  • Sunshine Medley
  • This Little Light of Mine
  • We Rise Again
  • Wonderful World

Choir is my happy place